If you woke up in the middle of the night, choking to the smell of smoke, and opened your eyes only to see that your curtains, walls, ceiling and dressing table were engulfed in fiery, white hot flame — as your lungs burned as you gasped for air — what would you do?
What if your partner who was lying in bed with you looked you straight in your face and said: “What flames? What smoke? The problem is not that bad. Go back to sleep.” … all the while you clearly smell your hair getting singed by the overwhelming heat of the tongues of flames that were disintegrating your headboard… What would you do?
If your mama called you on the phone and was saying, “It’s all your fault. You should have turned that space heater off like I told you to. You made your bed, now lie in it!” while you watched the flames creeping up your bed linens, what would you do?
If the television (now smoking, flickering on and off, and throwing sparks of electricity) had the latest “expert” on, teaching that someone in your position should take that half-drunk glass of water on the bedside table and try to put the house fire out with it… what would you do?
If the entire world stood outside your window and told you to sit tight and be strong while your pajamas ignited with white and blue-hot flames, while you watched in horror as your skin began to melt like chocolate ice cream on a blistering hot Florida day… what would you do?
You would do what any sane, self-preserving person would do:
YOU WOULD LEAVE THE DAMN BURNING HOUSE!
And yet – maybe you wouldn’t.
Black women all across this country are in a situation that is every bit as dire and urgent as trying to live in a burning house, but we allow ourselves to be consumed and destroyed by it on a regular basis.
We aren’t crazy. We are naïve. We aren’t stupid. We are incredulous: we simply cannot process the incredible, unfathomable, mind-blowing reality that the entire world is lying to us about what we are seeing and experiencing. It’s too mentally overwhelming to face the awesome, hideous, truth: we are headed for annihilation and the world is enjoying the show.
Mothers and daughters, sisters and aunts – black women of every hue and shade, are being relegated to ‘untouchable’ status – slated to become complete social pariahs, presented as the ugly, unlovable, jealous, bitter step sisters to the gleaming white Cinderellas of other races – and as a result, black women are the most un-partnered, the most abandoned, the most violently oppressed demographic on earth.
Yet if you howl in pain from the consuming fire, even other black women will tell you to shut up. No, you aren’t seeing things. You are being lied to by the entire world.
Black women – you must understand that in order to live, you must stop asking for permission to survive, because consent will not be given. You must take your survival by force.
You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are in a burning house and the lack of oxygen has previously clouded your judgment. Your only hope for survival is to ignore what everyone else is saying, and GET OUT.